The council approved the project last week, but not without reservations. Several councilors said they are disappointed Guthrie does not plan to install an elevator for tenants.
“By not putting in an elevator, you are eliminating a segment of the population from living there and that really bothers me,’’ Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien told Guthrie. “And I can’t imagine how tenants on the upper floors are going to get their furniture up there.”
Daly O’Brien said she has taken the stairs to the top of the building and that it’s “a slug of walk.”
Councilors Michael Hart and John Michitson joined Daly O’Brien in asking Guthrie to find a way to put in an elevator.
“I’m going to support you, but this is a severe flaw in your project,” said Michitson, adding that he once worked on the third floor of the building.
Guthrie told councilors he considered installing an elevator, but it would be too expensive. He said he received estimates of around $150,000. He also said installing an elevator is not required under the building code or the Americans with Disability law.
“There are a lot of challenges in renovating an 1882 building and installing an elevator is one of them,” Guthrie said. “People will make their own choice about whether they want to live there. There are plenty of apartments with elevators for people who want that.”
Councilor William Ryan said an elevator would be nice, but that seeing the building redeveloped should be the city’s primary objective.
“This is better that letting it rot away and have someone torch it,” Ryan said.
Guthrie said he has no plans to convert the apartments to condominiums down the line or spin the project off to another developer after receiving approval to build it. He said he has applied to the state for historic tax credits and that the program requires him to hold the property for at least five years.